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Emma Richardson is Cruisin' for a Bruisin'

The Band Of Skulls bassist tells us about the mischief of her new expo and reveals the sweet and sour sides to being an artist

She might be the bassist and vocalist in the Southampton-based Band Of Skulls, but Emma Richardson is also keeping busy in other creative areas. Since graduating with a BA in Fine Art from the Winchester School of Art in 2004, Richardson has been splitting her time between art and music and, after playing the Bonnaroo Festival and sold-out shows in the US last summer, as well as recording the band's anticipated second album 'Sweet Sour', she is now presenting her first solo expo in London; a series of drawings and large scale, visceral works created in response to the band's music.

I like the phrase Crusin' for a Bruisin', it suggests mischief and lightens the mood of an art show

Influenced by Cy Twombly and Lucien Freud, the paintings explore ambiguity, abstraction, symmetry, reflection and the nature of the human form in a visual release of twisted, sonic insides – having also shaped and inspired the band’s album art, reworked through digital manipulations and glass sculptures. Here, we chat to Richardson about the paint, the sound and the future...

Dazed Digital: When and why did you start painting? How did your artistic and musical taste evolve since then?
Emma Richardson:
I started painting at school because I enjoyed it and it was the only class I could get good marks. After doing a foundation year and then a degree my painting has gone through a whole bunch of changes hopefully for the better. The more you paint or write or play the better understanding you have of it and the further you can push yourself.

DD: Do you consider yourself primarily a visual artist, or a musician?
Emma Richardson:
I started painting before playing music but now the music is what I do full time and I try and paint when i have a chance.

DD: Tell us more about the exhibition - why are you Crusin' for a Bruisin'?
Emma Richardson:
This is the first time all of the paintings that have been used for the bands artwork are being show together. I never thought i would ever get to have a solo exhibition of my work in London so its a big deal to me. I like the phrase Crusin' for a Bruisin', it suggests mischief and lightens the mood of an 'art show'.

DD: Your paintings look very visceral and cathartic, and they were also the covers of Band Of Skulls' albums. How does the music influence the art and the art influence the music?
Emma Richardson:
After using my paintings for the first record it gave the band its own visual identity, something that was unique to us and we wanted to continue that so i made some more work around the time we were finishing the record and we kept the symmetry and the Rorschach ink blot idea so there would be a continuation. I listen to music while painting but its not just music that is an inspiration.

DD: Band Of Skulls' new album 'Sweet Sour' is about to come out now - what's the sweetest and the sourest thing about being an artist?
Emma Richardson:
The sweetest thing is taking a risk and it paying off, the sourest, getting writers block.

DD: What's next for you, for your art, and for the band?
Emma Richardson:
The band are touring this album for the rest of the year which everyone is excited about as we have two albums worth of material to choose from for the set now. I may get the odd weekend to do some painting if I'm lucky.

Cruisin' for a Bruisin' by Emma Richardson runs from 2-12 February at the Londonewcastle Project Space, 28 Redchurch Street London E2 7DP. For more information visit